Holiday to Orlando in 2017 - Universal or Disney

Discussion in 'Travelling & Holidays' started by WildeKarde, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    Was looking for some advice on the best way to approach booking a holiday for four to Orlando next year. We'll ideally be considering start of July (due to school holidays) but not sure what the best option is booking.

    The kids will be 14 and 10 so I'm thinking Universal is the better option but looking the package prices are pretty steep.

    I'd like to book onsite at one of them but I'm guessing the package deals aren't the most cost effective. Even taking the cheapest options it's looking at £5k for a room only deal, on economy flights and no park tickets booked either. :(

    Should I dismiss staying onsite? Am I better booking just the hotels and sorting my own flights? What's the best options on buying the tickets? Should I wait till close to the time or book as early as I can?
     
  2. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    Just returned from Orlando yesterday, daughter a little younger at 4 years old but hopefully can advise.

    We stayed in a house with friends which worked out a lot cheaper than staying on site, booked via the homeaway website. The house we had is in the link below, perfect place, extremely well looked after and the people we were with have stayed there on 4-5 occasions

    F2942: Large Two Storey Villa With Oversize Private Pool ...

    Its about 25 mins from disney and about 45 mins from universal, obviously hired a car too, driving was very simple and loads of restaurants and a walmart very close to the house.


    In terms of tickets, we were disney only as the little un was too young for universal, went for a 14 day pass which came to about £850 for the three of us but based on the park costs we got our moneys worth out of it and having the passes gave us great freedom to pick and choose when we wanted to go.

    If there is anything specific otherwise you want to know just ask as its all fresh in memory!
     
  3. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    I looked at park tickets and think for 4 of us it was about £1200 for Disney and £600 for Universal.

    The package deals come with a hire car it seems but not sure why it just didn't have transfers with hire car as an extra.

    Isn't the travelling to the sites each day an issue compared to falling out of bed and being onsite?
    How does it work with early access?

    Was just thinking since it's first time going to be onsite but it's looking to be a really expensive option
     
  4. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    Its useful to have the hire car I would say as there is loads of other things to do around the Orlando area if you have the time, Kennedy space centre was one we did which is about 90 mins away but was well worth it. Also for trying out the different restaurants, can recommend a trip to mannys chop house for a blinding steak!

    I personally didn't find travelling to the parks each day a problem, it was all very smooth and disney have the parking organisation nailed. There are also loads of toll roads which are cheap and quiet to get around on, for us it was a trip down the 27, along the 192 and join the toll road at a cost of $1.25 to get straight into the disney area in about 20 mins. The downside is that parking is $20 per day which is a bit steep, you can however get around this if you get a happy person on the gate and sing to them! Honestly it does work, 6 of us in a car singing I wanna be like you from the Jungle book got us free parking!!

    It would likely be worth just pricing up the difference in staying on site as opposed to being in a house with the associated costs, fuel is very cheap, cost me $35 to fill up a full size SUV from empty.

    The other advantage of the house was a private pool, barbecue for whenever we felt like cooking in and the private space of the lounge to chill in the evening when the kids are in bed.
     
  5. DJT75

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    That's the biggest factor here. The kids will be tired, you all will be. Do you want to be sitting in a proxy hotel room twiddling your thumbs or relaxing in your villa?

    Villa's are cheap as chips & gives you so much freedom, especially during days away from parks.
     
  6. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    Yeah agree with that, we had other friends there with a 12 and 10 year old and they were out like lights from about 8 after days in the park
     
  7. Greg Hook

    Greg Hook
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    I've been a few times now to Florida. Last time was with my brother's family.

    We did all the Disney parks. I've never done Universal so can't comment on which is better but I found Disney to offer a huge variety and more than enough to keep us happy for two weeks. The waterparks were my favourite.

    Firstly, the Disney tickets. They often (or permanently it seems) run an offer of 14 days for the price of 7 for the tickets which includes Fast Pass which is absolutely essential as the popular rides can often have queues of 3 hours or more. Fast Pass allows you to book your rides up to 1 (or 2?) days in advance. You get a timed ticket for the ride and you just turn up and use the Fast Pass queue to get straight on, past the massive queue of people dying in the heat!

    Secondly, you will save a fortune going for the villa and hire car route. Areas such as Kissimee/Davenport are within 20 minutes drive (all interstate and a piece of cake) from Disney and coming back to your own house at night, relaxing in your own pool etc etc is far better than being cramped in a hotel room especially when it is so hot. Sites such as ownersdirect are worth a browse. You will be amazed just how little it costs to have a massive house for two weeks.

    The hire car allows you to explore a bit. Last holiday we definitely needed gaps in the two weeks of no Disney, whilst it is great fun it is extremely tiring. Kennedy Space Center is a must visit if you go to Florida. The hire car allows you to visit the many excellent and dirt cheap places to eat, plus just gives you that freedom.

    Lastly, the airline tickets. Depending on how flexible you are there are huge savings to be made if you take a stop somewhere. The various ticket price sites will help you there. A guy at work took his family to Orlando for two weeks over Easter and they saved £3000 by not taking a direct flight.
     
  8. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    It's 30 days in advance for booking fast pass now. 60 days of a Disney resort guest.

    There's another Orlando/Disney thread a little below this where it's discussed.

    Get the app as it's brilliant, book 3 fast passes. Then once all three are used you can book another and keep doing that.

    I found the app invaluable around the park swapping fast passes on the hoof

    Water parks are definitely amazing, had a great time at blizzard beach
     
  9. Greg Hook

    Greg Hook
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    30 is it now? That's an improvement. When we went in April 2015 it was definitely only 2 or maybe 3 at most. The app was very useful but kept losing connection for some reason. I imagine they have improved it since I last went.
     
  10. DJT75

    DJT75
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    The direct flights we were hoping for never dropped below £1100 per head this August. Even with one stop over it was £950. In the end we're going via Amsterdam & NY. Adds a bit to the journey obviously but we've saved over £11,500 between us (party of 14). We're ALL going for under £4,000.
     
  11. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    Yeah, although there was plenty available up until few days before. Plus things change through the day, previously unavailable ones often come up.

    Wifi was pretty solid in most places
     
  12. JimmyMac

    JimmyMac
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    By the way Thomas cool now fly Orlando and Miami. One of our friends is a cabin manager with them so we got a bit of a discount to Orlando. We flew back from Miami and had a night there, cost difference was massive. Without discount 2 adults and one child was £444 total Miami to Manchester
     
  13. doubledragonxx

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    Been a few times to Orlando the last being 2015 and now planning for next Easter with friends. We've always booked to stay offsite because of costs and also the freedom of staying in Villa with pool etc... We've stayed in Lake Davenport before and the drive to the parks isn't too bad, last time we rented a Villa in Windsor Hill (gated community in Kissimmee) and more than likely will return next year. For the ease of getting to parks, local restaurants, Downtown Disney etc... I really don't think you can beat it.

    Universal Vs Disney - it really depends, is this holiday going to be a once in a lifetime thing? If so then you have no option but to cram it all in, you'll need a holiday once you've finished but at least you can mark it off the bucket list. Personally don't think you can go to Orlando and not do the Disney Park. Also depends if your kids into Rollercoasters, our son "White Knuckle Ride Fanatic" now 11 whose philosophy is scarier the better, means that we will possibly give Disney a miss next year and will go to Universal and Busch Gardens etc... Don't get me wrong Disney has some great rides but in my view would say Universal is geared a bit more for older kids/adults.

    There is also plenty of other non theme park related thing's to do in Florida and each time we've been we always made a point of taking a few days out from theme parks (trust me you'll need it) and in the past have gone to the beaches, airboat ride, state parks (Blue Spring great place). I would also highly recommend Discovery Cove, it's expensive but probably the best day we had last time we went. So car hire is must to allow you to explore and tbh driving out there is a piece of cake.

    With regards to flights these usually aren't available until 12 months in advance well at least with Virgin (the wife can get 15% off Virgin flights through work) haven't looked at other operators.
     
  14. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    It's sounding like the villa/house option is going to get me the best value and then shopping around for flights and tickets to get a deal.

    Lot's of good advice here and I think we'd want to do a few things while there. Plus a teenager will be wanting to get some "branded" clothing so being near shops will probably suit him.

    The holiday is basically a chance to take the kids here before they start getting too old to want to go to these places, and a better option than the Mrs suggesting just doing Paris .... :rolleyes:
     
  15. Greg Hook

    Greg Hook
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    Premium Outlets is the only place you need to go for clothing shopping. It has every brand name you could wish for and a load of places to eat too. There are couple in the immediate area. Good prices too.
     
  16. andyparksy

    andyparksy
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    First off, Paris is great but not even on the same page as the whole experience of Florida, so would definitely agree it's worth it.......

    For Disney we don't really bother staying on-site anymore - you still have to travel to the parks, the hotels are over priced and the perks you get (mostly the extra "magic" hours) result in trips to the busiest parks at the wrong times. The theaming is good but for us it just didn't justify the negatives.

    I know a lot like the villa option, but for us we still wanted that hotel feel and convenience so went for a "suite" hotel. These are often pretty cheap - we got a large 3 bed apartment with all the facilities but also had a large communal pool, bar and all of those things that made it not feel just like we were at home but in a different county. Last year I think we stayed at

    Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa a staySky Hotel/Resort in Orlando - Hotels.com

    and was really good. Still needed a car but was very central and made the stay a lot better. Was even opposite one the the outlets (was a smaller one though).

    For universal though, I think it's massively different and can't recommend enough staying on-site. They are expensive but it's such a difference maker.

    First up the hotels themselves are actually pretty good. Not great rooms but much better than other paces but the 2 we have been to (royal Pacific and the Hard Rock) have fantastic pools and we were more than happy to spend a lot of time there - we always enjoyed the evenings around the pool the best and they have pool side "dive in movies" and stuff going on after dark so lots of atmosphere and a really good time to wind down after the day.

    they are also 10-15 walk to the park gates which is not only good for the morning, but also means that it's actually doable to nip back to the hotel - we would spend some time int eh parks, going back to the pool for an hour or two then go back to the parks later. If you are out you can't really do this and you feel like you have to spend all day in the parks which can take some of the shine away, especially doing it day after day.

    The big one, at least for 3 of the 4 on site hotels, is that your room key can be used to go through the "express" line in almost all the big rides (apart form Happry Potter). It means that you only have to queue for about 10-15 min for most rides and some not at all. Even if you are not big on rides I can't stress just how much more enjoyable this makes the day though. As well as going on all the rides you want it just frees up so much more time to see and do all of the other stuff and makes everything go at a much better pace. We could go on loads of rides in a couple of hours, back to the hotel and chill and do the same in the evening so easily.

    They are expensive but you get use of the room express pass on both check-in and check out days, so for a 2 night stay you could have 3 full days which is more that enough to do the 2 parks there. Personally we always try for about a 3-4 night stay there then move out to somewhere cheaper for all the other parks inc Disney.

    Loads of tips on here so feel free to ask and am sure you will be inundated, but make sure you at least do some research before you go. Will make a big difference (especially for Disney - that place is a minefield). My personal favourite in Orlando is Discovery Cove - very expensive and some people don't really "get" it but if you do it's an amazing place.
     
  17. DJT75

    DJT75
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    We've got our villa (Windsor Hills too) for 21 nights but we're actually staying at Universal for 1 night in the middle purely to get two whole days of express passes. Costs about £50 per head to do but worth it
     
  18. JimmyMac

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    Totally agree on this, better than the main malls, wife picked up a michael kors handbag (apparently thats a popular design?!?) for about half what she would have paid in the UK. Saw plenty of other bits there too
     
  19. cooey

    cooey
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    Wife and I fly out two weeks on Monday and we cannot wait.
     
  20. Cloth-Ears

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    Idea :

    I don't know how long the kids get off in October where you live, but if they do get a fortnight, then do go at this time.

    - Less crowded
    - Cooler and more importantly, far less humid.
    - Better skies and much less rain, storm season over ( as a season )
    - Cheaper air fare ( I think, probably )
    - Leaves the summer free when its nice here anyway to enjoy with family, mates and local stuff.

    Only downside I can see is shorter operating hours and maybe not all shows running. But then, could you last a 14 hour day at a park. day after day, in the Florida summer anyway ? Hmmm.


    IF your kids get a fortnight for the October break, DO use this window of opportunity for the Florida parks. It is the smart choice !
     
  21. Cloth-Ears

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    As for Universal v's Disney, well I will say this.

    I don't like Mickey. Don't like that mouse at all !

    If I ever find that mouse I'm going to pull his head off, I will.
     
  22. Retro Oswald

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    Universal Orlando is a 3 day trip.

    Walt Disney World is about a weeks worth of stuff
     
  23. Rawschach

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    I wasn't a fan of Disney until we went for the first time - i would recommend it to everyone as it really does have 'magic' and the place is wonderful.

    In terms of the rides, Disney are more family type rides with only 2 top drawer roller coasters (Everest and Rock n Roller Coaster) whereas Universal has loads of thrill rides and things that go upside down - this might be more appealing to children of 10 and 14.

    On rides Universal wins hands down - Disney has lots of family rides, 3d films etc and the place is fantastic but the rides at Universal are different class.

    I agree with the above poster - you can do Universal in 3 days but Disney takes at least a week. A lot of the rides at Universal you can go on a few times though.

    If you can manage it, 3 weeks is the way to go. Do 10 days at Disney and 11 at Universal / Sea World and around Orlando. The flights are the main expense so going for longer makes sense (easy to say i know!!)

    Disney normally do promotions where you can get free dining if you stay onsite - this makes it more financially viable as the food is excellent. Still not cheap but staying onsite is great and very convenient.

    The suggestion of staying onsite at Universal is also a very good one. If you are going in July it will be very busy - getting a couple of days of Express Pass is fabulous. The hotels are great too (Royal Pacific is cheaper than the others but just as nice so we like staying there)

    Whatever you choose you will have a good time. I didn't want to go the first year we went but it really is an amazing place.
     
  24. Cloth-Ears

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    I would add, if you have the time withing the span of a trip, to build in non-park foils to the parks to give yourself a "break" from the fun/madness. The "space coast" is an example. A beach town for the beach, is another. Maybe go to see gators ...... etc

    I think doing this would not only add other interest but also enhance the enjoyment of the parks when you return to them.

    Perhaps you can identify the busiest days and go elsewhere on those days.
     
  25. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    So been pricing up some options at Thomson. We got the following options for end of June next year (inc park tickets as part of cost):
    - 14 Nights in Disney hotel (moderate) for about £6600
    - 14 Nights in Rose Inn Hotel for about £4048
    - 14 Nights in Villa in Kissimmee for about £5400

    Think the Mrs prefers offsite for saving money and that is includes car hire plus flying on 787 from Glasgow. I'm thinking the villa might be the better option as we'll get more than one room to share :)
     
  26. Greg Hook

    Greg Hook
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    How many is that for?
     
  27. Delvey

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    I wouldn't book through Thomson as they are usually expensive. Book flights separately as soon as they are released and hotel at a later date
     
  28. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    That's for 4 of us.

    TBH we also had a quick look on Thomas Cook for same date / locations and they were £1k more for the same package.

    EDIT: Just had a search on skyscanner to price the flights and the cheapest seems to be Thomsons at £2243 for 4 of us, they hotel search there quotes £743 for the hotel on the cheaper Thomson price.
    That's just shy of £3k for flight and hotel and means they were adding £1k for park tickets for 4 plus economy hire car. Doesn't seem much overpriced but then I suppose there is 12months to go so not many discounts on the prices.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  29. Greg Hook

    Greg Hook
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    OK, that's not too bad. I take it end of June is school holiday time in Scotland?

    From past experience I'd definitely go for the villa option. You get so much more flexibility and end up saving a lot of money too. You can eat where you want, go where you want etc. Ideally Kissimmee area is one to go for.

    I'd recommend a day at Kennedy Space Centre too. That is a must see if visiting Orlando.
     
  30. WildeKarde

    WildeKarde
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    It is the end of the school year, they finish on 27/06 (a Tuesday) so we could really go 26/06.

    I am more towards the villa option rather than all in a hotel room. Cost wise I've been told to hang off till Sept as prices are better or even wait till six weeks before for best flight prices but thinking I might be as well getting it booked.

    Might get cheaper flights over multiple stops but Mrs has said direct is option she'd prefer.
     

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